Archive for the ‘Beyond Our Walls’ Category

Sunflower Seeds, 2010. Ai Weiwei (b.1957). Temporary installation at the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, London.

You might have heard about Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds, an installation in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London, England. Initially, visitors were encouraged to interact with the artwork but due to health and safety concerns the museum decided to close access to the public. Now, the work can be viewed from a bridge that goes across the gallery or from behind a rope. This is the third show at the Tate that experienced safety issues. The first occured in 2006 when visitors were injured in Carsten Höller’s exhibit of Test Site. This was an installation of a series of slides-the longest one being 58 meters (approximately 190.2 feet) long. The second issue arose during Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth when three visitors fell into the crack on the floor. (more…)

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The NEA symbol and motto

In a time when our economy is in a volatile state, we worry about maintaining the arts at all levels.  On the local level, schools face budget cuts each year, and many public schools are losing funds for their arts programs.  Most of the arts programs are supported by federal grants, and are not considered a fixed part of district budgets. Due to this, the funding for the arts is constantly in danger of being reduced. Across America, officials at the local, state, and federal levels understand the importance of the arts for community development and life.  There are many art advocates who are doing everything they can to provide a solid future for the arts in America, despite the tough economy.   (more…)

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The Picture Book (alternate title: Instruction), 1903. Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934). Gravure print, 15.7 x 20.7 cm. Library of Congress. Published in Camera Work X, 1905.

The study of the female form has been a reccurring theme in artworks for millenia and many museum masterpieces focus on the exploration of a woman’s body . In the late 19th century, this theme was often explored either as the study of beauty or as a representation of motherhood. The Pictorialist photographers concentrated their attention on softly focused images of elegantly dressed women that exuded a certain kind of mystery. Unfortunately, these photographs only showed the charm and stylishness of their sitters instead of the “individual[‘s] strength of character.” An affiliated theme is that of showing women and children occupied with a leisure activity or playing in a home or garden. These types of photographs interested both female and male photographers and they subsequently created images that showed romanticized versions of informal family life. (more…)

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. American Wing expansion under construction. Fall, 2008.

Museums constantly have to address the lack of space they have to display artwork in their ever-expanding collections. When faced with this issue, enlarging a museum’s gallery space appears to be the logical solution and, now, the norm. In some circumstances, it allows a museum to prosper and shine. However, the expansion is a risk and if it is unsuccessful it could destroy the integrity of the museum. In the past five years, many major museums have undertaken expansions on a variety of levels. Some have made the news, for both good and bad reasons. All the critics ask, “do the pros outweigh the cons? What is the cost to the museum, beyond financially? Is the original mission damaged? The collection? How does this change the course of the museum’s future?”

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The “@” Symbol, recently added to the collection of the MoMA

Webster’s dictionary defines art as, “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” According to this definition, it is almost easier to define the action of doing art, rather than what it actually is.
Does art need to have a concept or a story, or could it just simply follow the autonomy of art for art’s sake? If an object is seen as aesthetically pleasing shouldn’t it be considered art?  Regardless of an object’s use in daily life, if it is pleasing to look at, should it be displayed? (more…)

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A Sotheby’s auctioneer looks for bids. Photo by Sotheby’s.

Tough economic times have caused one of the art world’s most controversial questions to once again resurface: should museums sell works in their collection? The Rose Art Museum, which houses over 8,000 objects, brought international attention to this debate when Brandeis announced it was closing the Museum and selling the works of art in order to help the University recover from the economic decline. Due to its involvement with Bernard Madoff, Brandeis was particularly hard-hit. After months of public outcry and three series of lawsuits, the University was forced to keep the Museum open. This debacle is credited for Jehuda Reinharz’s (Brandeis University President) decision to step down.

Recently, a vast majority of art museums across the nation have been compelled to freeze salaries, shorten exhibition schedules, decrease museum programming and even cut staff. In some instances, these cut backs may have even inhibited a museum’s ability to enhance their collection by preventing the purchasing of new works. Are museums faced with the choice to make cut backs or sell a few pieces of art to help improve the museums’ situation? Yes or no, this issue has created quite uproar. (more…)

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Snow in New York, 1902. Robert Henri, (1865-1929). Oil on canvas, 32 x 25 13/16 in. (81.3 x 65.5 cm). National Gallery of Art, from the Chester Dale Collection, 1954.4.3.

“The Eight” was a group of American artists devoted to depicting urban realism in each of their own unique styles.  They were considered to be rebellious pioneers of modern American art.  The Eight exhibited only once together in 1908 where they took it upon themselves to organize the exhibition rather than to go through the National Academy.

Robert Henri (1865-1929) was the leader of the group.  He met and befriended the “Philadelphia Four,” a group of newspaper illustrators (William Glakens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan) and encouraged them to become painters.  The five of them eventually moved to New York City and also came to be associated with the Ashcan School.  (more…)

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